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No commodities? Low-income families left to wonder

Staff writer

Free food commodities for low-income families, including many elderly on fixed incomes, aren’t available for April and won’t come again until May, according to senior centers and churches throughout Marion County.

“At first, they said we would have them April, May, and June,” food distribution volunteer LouAnn Bowlin said. “Now they’re just saying May, and I’m not sure if there’ll be any in June.”

Commodities also weren’t available in February, and deliveries in March had less food than usual.

The scarcity of government commodities coincides with an increase of people coming to get them in Peabody, according to Bowlin. She has seen pallets emptied by 10 a.m. on the day of distribution.

Despite the frustration of volunteers, there has been no official explanation from the government for why local distributors haven’t received items that typically arrived monthly.

“I’ve tried to question them, and it’s just a blank, because they don’t know,” Bowlin said. “I know that people are trying really hard to do stuff, and they’re frustrated, too. What can you do?”

It may be a return to pre-pandemic food distribution. Kansas Department for Children and Families reports that commodities were distributed only five or six times yearly before the pandemic.

“For years, they just did it every other month,” Bowlin said. “Then, when COVID started, they did it every month.”

Volunteers try to inform people reliant on commodities about their absence and point them toward food banks in Marion, Peabody, and Hillsboro for groceries.

“I know people look forward to the commodities,” Bowlin said.
“We try to let people who rely on the commodities know that there won’t be commodities, and that they need to prepare and get some extra cereal or something like that.”

Last modified April 20, 2022

 

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